Scientists in the U.S. say they may have found a new way to trick the body into burning more fat.
Mice that were given a chemical that blocks the function of an enzyme called Fyn kinase burned more fatty acids and expended more energy, which made them leaner.
This and other metabolic improvements, including increased insulin sensitivity, were because of higher levels of the " energy master switch" AMPK in the rodents' fat and muscle tissue.
The findings suggest that Fyn kinase may offer a target for a new kind of weight-loss drug, said the researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Neuroscience.
"When there is an imbalance between what we eat and what we burn," the outcome is obesity, said Claire Bastie of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Neuroscience.
"And the problem of obesity is not going away. This is a new mechanism to help the body to burn extra energy," Bastie added.
The experimental drug used to block Fyn kinase in the mice isn't an ideal candidate for clinical trials in humans because both Fyn kinase and AMPK have effects in the brain as well as in fat and muscle.
"Our next goal is to design something extremely specific to muscle and adipose," Bastie said.
The study appears in the Feb. 3 issue of the journal Cell Metabolism.